Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Sociology and Anthropology

First Advisor

Dr. Boyd Littrell


The present study was undertaken to investigate changes in the coping strategies of black students at private, predominantly white colleges, and the implications of their behavior for the future of black Americans. This population of students was selected for the study because blacks in private, predominantly white colleges who assimilate successfully and graduate from these institutions are presumed to have an advantage over other college graduates. A prestigious network in place through fellow alumni, former professors and "friends" of the college help them to move into the American mainstream. Consequently, they become part of a sub-group of privileged black Americans who form a black elite. The study revealed that assimilation, the coping strategy that enables these blacks to become elites, also causes them to avoid other black Americans and predominantly black activities and institutions. Research for this project consisted of testing two questionnaires that were designed to assess behavior in a number of campus and community situations. One hundred and four (104) enrolled students and 47 alumni responded. The study revealed, 1) there is an association between the experience of integration students in the study have had and the degree to which they assimilate into white society while avoiding other black Americans; 2) the socioeconomic status of black elites is only slightly related to their assimilation/avoidance behavior, 3) the assimilation/avoidance behavior of the enrolled black students was not as great as the behavior of the elites had; 4) socioeconomic status and assimilation into white society are negatively associated with the career-aspirations of the enrolled black students in this study. An exploratory project, this study had a secondary purpose of determining if black students who are currently enrolled in private white colleges and black graduates of the same schools can be studied in a meaningful way for the purpose of explaining the changes perceived in black student behavior. Findings were that under certain conditions the process can be accomplished successfully.


A Thesis Presented to the Department of Sociology and the Faculty of the Graduate College University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Arts. Copyright 1989 Anece F. McCloud